New Puerto Princesa airport to attract 2 million visitors a year

airport450The new Puerto Princesa airport terminals and taxiways, to be designed and built by Korean Kumho Industrial Co. Ltd. for operation in 2017, is expected to attract 2 million local and foreign tourists each year, thereby boosting the city’s tourism and economy.

This and many other programs of current Mayor Lucilo Bayron were made possible because of good governance, which resulted in substantial inflows of investments and businesses in the city, thereby reversing the declining trend of the previous city administration.

The current Puerto Princesa airport can only handle 350,000 passengers a year such that when visitor arrivals shot up to 1.35 million in 2013, congestion and tourists’ disapproval found their way to numerous negative blogs on the internet.

At his state of the city (SOCA) address last July 7, Bayron said the next two years of his first term will produce concrete programs and projects to realize the people’s dreams and aspirations for a “model city of the future” through a wholistic development of the economy, tourism, agriculture, peace and order, people’s welfare, energy and infrastructure.

The World Heritage site, Puerto Princesa Underground River, will be re-developed with better facilities for the visitors so it can live up to its “outstanding universal value” along with the Sabang pier, whose landing planks are now slippery – posing a danger to the lives of tourists along with the unsightly tents surrounding the area.

Bayron said the Tourism Infrastructure and Economic Zone Authority (TIEZA) has pledged P50 million to design and build the Sabang Terminal Building and the architectural and business plans would soon be presented to TIEZA Chief Executive Officer Mark Lapid and Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez.

Additionally, since 60 percent of fish sold in Metro Manila comes from Puerto Princesa and Palawan province, an integrated fishport terminal would soon be built to include ice plant, cold storage, processing plants and others to ensure that the province reaps full benefits from the fish catch. This would generate employment and various economic opportunities for the province.

Other investments being planned for Puerto Princesa are the Canigaran footbridge, the 5,000-seat convention center and 2,000 capacity auditorium, the Baywalk restaurant complex to serve fresh seafoods and halal foods.

Bayron said business confidence has risen abruptly as evidenced by increased business tax collection of P13.3 million and real property tax collection of P9.2 million, from their previous deficit positions.

From the P159-million debts incurred by the previous administration (from 2010 to June 2013), this has been reduced to P13 million as of May 31, 2014.

So far this year, total investments in tourism-related business reached P3.4 billion or 575 percent from P599 million in 2013, excluding the P116.7 million in investments in subdivision projects.

Bayron said the Permits and Licensing Division reported 1,599 new business permits issued in 2014, an increase of 428 from 2013’s 1,171 issued permits. Capital investments also leapt by P69 million, clearly a vote of confidence by the business sector for his administration.

On peace and order, Bayron said the Philippine National Police reported crimes of 854, a decrease of 1,793 incidents from previous crime volumes. This is because of the closer collaboration among the PNP, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, barangays and residents in effecting the arrests of bigtime pushers.

On renewable energy, Bayron said city hall will generate its own electricity using solar panels. This project has been awarded to American solar company “Vis Solis” after proper bidding procedures were undertaken. A 2-MW solar plant at Sabang will begin construction in August to finish in six months. Another 6-MW hydro power plant is waiting for approval by Palawan Electric Cooperative to commence.

He said the city government is also discussing with four solar energy companies to install 10- to 20-MW solar power plants. – City Government of Puerto Princesa

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